Chen leads Chinese charge at Singapore Open

He has individual titles from the Olympic Games, World Championships, All England Open and a whole host of Badminton World Federation Superseries events.

But men's world No. 1 Chen Long's record at the OUE Singapore Open has been mysteriously mediocre - two second-round exits in 2011 and 2015, and a quarter-final finish last year.

The 28-year-old will be desperate to go all the way this time around, after confirming that he will lead a 23-strong China team for the US$350,000 ($496,000) event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from April 11 to 16.

He said: "Everyone goes into a competition hoping to win and I am no different. I want to do my best to thank the fans who have been supporting me at the Indoor Stadium.

"I also hope they will come and support me at the OUE Singapore Open in April."

With badminton legends Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei approaching the end of their illustrious careers, Chen gave the clearest indication that he is ready to dominate the sport when he finally added the Olympic gold to his medal collection in Rio last August, by beating Lee 21-18, 21-18.

Since then, he took an extended break from the sport to spend time with his girlfriend, retired shuttler and former world No. 1 Wang Shixian.

But the Hubei-native has quickly retrained his sights on Tokyo 2020.

"I did not touch a racket for 40, 50 days. There were a lot of challenges, setbacks and pressure before I finally became an Olympic champion, so I had to release those negative emotions," Chen told Chinese media.

"Winning is everything in sport, that's how cruel it is. When you lose matches, you also lose future opportunities to play as well as commercial worth. But the more you play, the more tired you become.

"The more you lose, the more you doubt yourself. That's what happened to me when I didn't play that well in the earlier part of the year. It was only after winning the Olympics in August that I could relax.

"I still love the sport, my physical condition is good and I don't have any major injury. I just turned 28, which is not a bad age, and my mentality is pretty good at the moment.

"All things considered, if I can plan my preparation better, set and hit my short-term training and competition targets and pay more attention to the finer details, winning at Tokyo 2020 will not be just a dream."

Other top shuttlers to feature at the OUE Open are world No. 1 mixed doubles duo Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen, as well as two-time Olympic champion Zhang Nan, who will contest the men's doubles with Liu Cheng and team up with Li Yinhui in the mixed doubles.

Defending men's and women's singles champions Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand will also be in town, alongside reigning Olympic women's singles champion Carolina Marin of Spain.

Tickets for the OUE Open are available through Sports Hub Tix and APAC Tix.

This article was first published on Feb 15, 2017.
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